How to Avoid Overuse Injuries

It’s summer, and you’re enjoying physical activities. Are you starting to return to an activity or a workout program as your gym opens up after the pandemic? It’s important not to overdo it on the first week out if you’re resuming your spot on a tennis team or in an exercise class at the gym.

Overuse injuries often occur if you suddenly restart an activity that you haven’t done in awhile. They can also happen when you begin a new activity, like a dance class, where you’re turning and twisting your legs in new moves. 

Following are tips from the team at Urgently Ortho in Scottsdale, Arizona, to help you avoid overuse injuries. 

Start gradually 

If you stopped exercising during the pandemic and became a couch potato, you may be very motivated to get back in shape now that summer is here. Be careful not to try to build those muscle contours in one weekend; you’ll end up sore and possibly injured. 

If you’re beginning to play a sport you haven’t played in awhile or go back to the gym, follow the 10 percent rule. Increase the duration and intensity of your workouts by no more than 10 percent each week. In the gym, add just 10 percent more weight when you strength train this week than when you worked out last week. The same applies to your mileage and pace if you’re a walker or runner. If you’re on the treadmill in a gym, start on the low settings and work up to the higher ones by degrees. 

Warm up before and after vigorous exercise

Don’t forget to warm up before more intense exercise. Warming up opens up your capillaries and increases blood flow to your muscles, preparing them for what’s ahead and sending important nutrients where they’re needed. It also slowly increases your heart rate and your breathing, which helps your endurance as you move into the more intense phase of exercise. Forgoing a warmup is akin to waking up and jumping out of bed right away instead of stretching and slowly getting up.  

A warmup should be about 5 to  10 minutes of light activity such as riding a stationary bike or easy walking at the beginning and end of your exercise program or when you play your sport. If you’re strength training, go through the motions with no weight or very light weights first to ensure your joints are lubricated and ready to sustain you during the workout. Experts recommend a warmup at about 30 percent of the power you’ll put into the intense portion of your workout. 

Alternate workout days 

Once you’re up to speed in your exercise program or are playing your sport regularly, alternate rigorous training days with easier workouts on the other days. If you’re playing competitive tennis or are training for a half-marathon, let your muscles rest on the days you’re not doing intense workouts. Go for a bike ride or pick another moderate activity that gives your body a break. 

Stop if you feel pain

Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is amiss. Stop the activity and rest. If the pain persists, make an appointment with Urgently Ortho to determine the cause of your discomfort before it becomes a serious issue. Rest a sore muscle before it becomes a torn muscle. 

Use proper footwear

Exercising on old shoes that don’t have the proper support can result in overuse injuries. If you’re a runner, be sure to log your mileage; running shoes should be replaced anywhere between 300 and 500 miles

Let your exercise shoes breathe. Don’t wear them every day. They’ll lose their shock absorber capability too quickly. 

Call or send a message to Urgently Ortho for all of your orthopedic needs. Our office has advanced medical equipment so that you receive a prompt diagnosis and can begin treatment immediately.  

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